CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – As temperatures remain high across the Lowcountry, experts are urging people to recognize the signs of heat-related illnesses and take precautions against them.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, heat-related illnesses exist on a spectrum. Some can present mild symptoms and pose a relatively low risk, while others can be life-threatening.
More mild versions of heat-related illnesses include heat rash and heat cramps.
Heat rash is a red, stinging rash that develops in areas where sweat typically gets trapped, like the insides of the elbows and behind the knees or anywhere skin folds.
Heat cramps are muscle pains that often develop after physical activity in hot weather as a result of the body losing electrolytes due to excessive sweating.
More severe heat-related illnesses include heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is unable to cool itself down enough through sweating. Cleveland clinic identifies the symptoms of heat exhaustion as:
- High body temperature
- Rapid breathing and heart rate
- Muscle cramps
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Pale skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness and fatigue
If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to the most extreme heat-related illness, heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when a person’s body temperature rapidly escalates and the body is unable to cool itself down. Cleveland clinic identifies the symptoms of heatstroke as:
- Confusion or agitation
- Hallucinations and an altered mental state
- Inability to sweat
- Dry, red skin
- Dizziness or fainting
- Slurred speech
- Body temperature above 105 degrees F
Groups that are especially vulnerable to heatstroke include people who are very young or very old, people who are engaging in physical activity outside in high temperatures, people who are dehydrated, and people who are not used to the heat.
To avoid heat-related illnesses, Cleveland Clinic suggests staying hydrated, taking frequent breaks in cool areas, and vigilantly watching for the signs.